Did you know today is THE day to celebrate vinyl? No, not the vinyl they used to sell at Drew’s favorite shop in the village. Also not the vinyl that my friend Dan the Creamed Corn used to make bed sheets (and a pair of shamrock pasties for Mom – that’s a whole other story). Nope! Today we celebrate an entirely different, and even better, form of vinyl.
Today is Vinyl Record Day. Ok, to be fair, it’s not exactly nationally recognized at this point – but it damn well should be! I heart vinyl madly. If I had my druthers, I wouldn’t listen to music any other way.
With the exception of a live performance, nothing sounds better than vinyl. The soft hiss. The warm pops. You’re enveloped in a cozy sound cocoon before the music even begins!
Granted, I see the downside of the medium. I’ve primarily digitized my music collection because I just don’t have the space for all the physical recordings in my tiny little apartment. (Plus it’s my opinion that the recordings on CD’s are already so miserably compressed, a little more compression in the ripping process is hardly noticeable – especially when played back through crap apple headphones.)
Record players themselves are hardly compact. I don’t have an open flat space to eat on in this apartment. Well I suppose there’s my lap. I have no intention of setting up a record player there. Plus I’ve never seen anyone out jogging with a record player and a 12″ strapped to their upper arm. Even if they tried it, I’m betting it would skip.
That being said, I still have a little stash of 12″ and 7″ treasures tucked away in the back of my closet. Normally I’m really good at ignoring stoop sales or discarded trash. However, the second I see the corner of a cardboard sleeve poking out, all bets are off. Suddenly I channel my grandfather and I’m rifling through boxes and bags in search of the good stuff. I once found a copy of Sgt. Pepper amidst a pile of vinyl stacked up against a fire hydrant on the Upper West Side. Screw happy hour specials – that was WAY more exciting. Of course, we found the records at the very beginning of quite a lengthy adventure and the excitement started to wane as I lugged that pile of records all over creation.
One of my most prized possessions is an old portable phonograph I found on eBay once upon a time. The arm is so heavy it can’t even play vinyl records – only shellac. It doesn’t get much more bad ass than that! I’ve had several of my engineering inclined theater peeps offer to update the machinery so that I could play the records I already own. On one hand, that’s a major score and rather tempting. As it is, neither the player nor the records get any action. What’s the point of having something that you can’t use, right? Somehow I just can’t do it, though. Not yet. It’s too damn beautiful in all its cracked, musty glory.
Anyway, pull out one of those cardboard sleeves yourself today. Savor the musty, slightly pizza-box-esque smell that envelopes you as you slide the gleaming black disc into your hand. Inhale deeply, then gently blow away the dust that’s settled in the grooves. My heart is always in my throat as I lower the needle arm, expecting to slip and mar the perfectly patterned surface with a long garish gash. When the record ends, don’t jump up to remove the arm. Let it bounce back a few times and revel in that rhythmic signal to move on.
Happy Vinyl Record Day!